Today Job makes his final argument (chapters 26-31). He is weary of defending himself and he is unsatisfied with his friends’ advice, but he is firm in his conviction that he has not knowingly sinned against God. He begins by acknowledging that God is beyond understanding. He feels that God has denied him justice (because God has not answered him), and that to admit this has happened because he has sinned would be lying. Think about it. God would be easier to understand if He acted like we expect Him to. If nothing bad ever happened to good people, wouldn’t that make more sense? It would be far easier for Job to simply admit he was hiding sin in his heart than to maintain his integrity and try to reconcile that with God’s justice. But Job’s faith will not let him take the easy road. He will not “downsize” God to his own understanding.
Throughout the rest of the chapters, Job shows that he knows what sin looks like when he describes how he has not acted. He has not lusted, or lied, or been dishonest in his business dealings. He has not been unfaithful to his wife. He has not mistreated his servants. He has not withheld help from widows and orphans when it was in his power to give it. He has not trusted in his riches or bowed down to idols. He has not been unwilling to welcome strangers or treated those who worked his land unfairly. He can say with confidence that the wisdom to understand what has happened to him lies only in the wisdom of God.
Job uses a phrase (as translated in the NIV) that I think is so descriptive of how he is feeling. “Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me…” (30:11). There are several ideas on exactly how this phrase should be translated and what it means. In context, Job says that he has become an object of disrespect and mocking from young men he would never have given the time of day to. He used to be respected in the gate, a revered elder sought out for his wisdom. Now the lowest people in society make fun of him. How far he has fallen. How greatly he has been humbled. God has “unstrung his bow.” He has taken away from him any ability to respond. He can’t “shoot back” an arrow in defense. He has no strength, no power. He has been made helpless.
Perhaps that’s the lesson God has been trying to teach him all along. While Job’s heart was right, he needed a reminder that in God’s eyes, all men are weak and helpless, and that he hadn’t earned God’s favor because of his strength and abilities. God still loved him and had plans for his life, even at the place of utter weakness.
Has God ever “unstrung your bow?” Has He ever stripped you of all that you thought made you useful and valuable? When all you have left to cling to is your faith in God, is it enough to get you through?